• Wednesday, July 09, 2014RSS Feed

    From the House of Delegates: Help in Responding to 'Productivity' Issues on Its Way

    By this time next year, physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapists assistants (PTAs) may have a few more tools at their disposal when it comes to talking with employers and others about productivity and performance.

    This year's House of Delegates (House) voted overwhelmingly to identify and develop resources that will help PTs and PTAs negotiate successfully around productivity and performance in ways that ensure the provision of quality physical therapy care. The motion was approved during the 2014 session held June 9-11 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    According to the statement supporting the motion, the need for more analysis and tools has arisen in the face of a changing health care climate that has created "uncertainties" that have caused some employers to turn to "productivity" measures as the primary measure of PT and PTA performance. These productivity measures may not be realistic and generally do not reflect the value of PT care and the patient related outcomes of PT practice.

    "At such times, PTs and PTAs need not just ethical courage to stand up for what is right, but also tools and resources to fortify them to engage vigorously and effectively in the dialogue and negotiations with administrators/employers and consultants who are pressuring [them] to adopt productivity measures or practices that may represent sincere but archaic or misguided notions of the nature and role of PT practice," according to the supporting statement.

    The motion adopted by the House could result in the development of resources for PTs and PTAs who, according to the support statement, "seek to balance their clinical, ethical, and professional responsibilities against the demands inherent in the employment relationship." The 2015 House will receive a progress report on the efforts [RC-16].

    APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.


    This is good news!! I asked to begin a dialogue on this very issue at a TPTA meeting 2 years ago and NO ONE wanted to touch it. It was extremely disheartening to me. The new productivity standards out here in the workplace are a real threat to patient care, to ethical decision making in general. We need to at the very least have an official stance on it from our professional organization. Thank you!!
    Posted by Elizabeth Herring on 7/10/2014 6:28 AM
    So glad they are addressing this issue for those therapists on the "front-line" dealing with productivity requirements of >=90%.
    Posted by Tracy Wright -> >FRbCH on 7/10/2014 8:20 PM
    Finally ~ No Mc-therapy please . .
    Posted by Kathleen Flagge on 7/11/2014 6:28 PM
    YAY! We need help out here!
    Posted by Dee PT on 7/11/2014 10:34 PM
    I am pleased as well that our professional association has finally taken up discussion on this subject of productivity. This is not helping our profession and our ability to be autonomous in our practice, I have personally been affected by this issue and felt alone in having to deal with this in an ethical as well as a professional manner. Productivity alone cannot be the measure of our success or failure as a clinician. We do need to discuss this in an open forum where we are not in danger of losing our jobs!
    Posted by Gerald Pica on 7/11/2014 11:50 PM
    The pressure to be >85% productive has staff "working off the clock" to meet expectations. Especially vulnerable new grads who state " I have student loans to pay" and "I need a job". Clearly illegal and giving away hours. The employers ignore their employees right to breaks (in our state) and count them against the day's productivity.
    Posted by S. PTA on 7/13/2014 4:47 PM
    ...This is an initiative that cannot be divorced from the economic realities of our time. Like it or not, professional compensation and contribution are inherently interdependent and cannot be disconnected if there is to be financial fairness, and job security, and practice sustainability. Declining reimbursement, unreasonable utilization controls, high deductible insurance plans are underlying drivers behind current compensation the productivity challenges that have been evolving for well over a decade. Retrospective salary surveys have become irrelevant in the context of eroding reimbursement, irrational legislative rules, , an unlevel playing field, and inefficient healthcare systems. The value-add of competent caring professionals operating in a and competitive health market gets overlooked. Financial accountability has come to the practice of physical therapy. It is not a battle between professionals and their employers but rather a loosing battle with powerful special interests. The new age of compensation accountability is here. It will only be solved through innovation that enhance productivity... the possibilities are endless.
    Posted by Bob Wiersma on 7/13/2014 7:26 PM
    Reinmbursement and insurance mix drive procuvtivity standards. If 50% of your business is from an insurance company that only pays you $50 per visit, then this is going affect productivity. Many therapist want to practice in a bubble and have no idea of the declining reimbursement landscape we are in, yet they still want to get paid like they been have in the past. This is not realistic and as a profession we have to deliver care more efficently with better outcomes.
    Posted by James Caron on 7/14/2014 9:17 AM
    no doubt about it productivity standards are here to stay. I think reasonable productivity ranges should be recommended by the APTA. Patient care is always first and patient care cannot be performed while typing on an Ipad. We also need to look at how we calculate productivity and what therapists bring to the whole continuum of care and not just billing codes such as 97110. At least we are having the discussion.
    Posted by Justin Johnson -> @GT_?N on 7/14/2014 9:38 AM
    Changes in the healthcare delivery system, reimbursement, and case mix certainly impact our profession. However, our profession cannot allow pushing unrealistic productivity standards. I can and only will speak from a PT standard in the SNF setting. >=85% productivity with a fragile elderly population within the setting of the SNF environment is not only unrealistic but placing our colleagues in a daily ethical dilemma. Do I go back and treat the elderly woman for an additional 20 minutes or do I leave work early, lose pay, and risk my insurance benefits? Do I refuse to "get the minutes" and risk being reprimanded and/or fired. As a manager do I direct the therapists to "get the minutes" no matter what or get placed on the "not singing the corporate song" list? The choices facing these PT's are unconscionable. How does ever increasing productivity affect quality? Speaking with MD's, NP's, CNA's, nurses, family members, and other rehab team members is a huge part of quality patient care. Documentation that is cohesive, well thought out, accurately describes the need for physical therapy services is also part of quality care. Providing patients your undivided attention is another part of quality care. And who made the decision that only billable time counts as productive time? Some professions cannot be adequately measured by productivity standards meant for manufacturing. The APTA has initiated the discussion, however, ASHA and the AOTA have come out with strong statements regarding ethical behaviors and issues surrounding productivity. The therapists practicing in SNFs need the APTA support now! Not a year from now.
    Posted by Janet Mahoney on 7/18/2014 7:21 PM
    Interesting that no one has mentioned the fraud that must take place if a therapist is working at a productivity >85 %. Either payroll fraud or insurance fraud is taking place at these levels of productivity.
    Posted by Jon Milan on 9/6/2014 12:36 AM
    So glad I'm reading this. An overdue subject that was in need of being addressed at the higher level, for the best interest of our profession and personal integrity.
    Posted by Jimena Vasquez on 10/15/2014 2:52 PM
    These "resources" are way over due. My wages are being garnished now, and ethical lines are being crossed as I am typing this. The system is broke. Therapy is about individual, not commodity. We are set up to daily choose failure to reach an unrealist expectation or be part unethicaly/fraudrulent actions. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do something soon! Therapist are becoming exhausted. FYI: as a contract therapist, I know there are SNF's requiring 90% from therapit and 95% productivity from assistance (in and 480 minute day that leaves very little time for answering call lights, doing required Medicare/payer source documenting, or to be ethical).
    Posted by Tracy on 10/16/2014 9:21 PM
    while I agree that excessive standards compromise integrity of care,there has to be a reality check on both sides of the coin. Declining reimbursement and ever increasing costs of the employee are a reality. The rates therapist and assistants are asking for are ever increasing. It is a reality for providers that they, at times, pay more for the employee per hour than they get reimbursed under some payers.
    Posted by guest on 12/28/2014 3:22 PM
    I am a prn employee in subacute rehab setting. My first day back after two months, i was called in to DORs office to reprimand me for my 90% productivity. They require 95% for PRNs!!!
    Posted by Marilyn Borrell on 3/6/2015 5:54 PM
    The productivity scale no longer fits our healthcare systems laws, rules, regulations. Working as a PTA in a SNF I face everyday to do the ethical thing and have been repeatedly reprimanded as I am not producing the numbers required. In my opinion chasing a w/c down or looking for an oxygen tank much less a tank holder does not qualify as quality care. Putting a patient on a machine while I do my billing to save time towards my productivity is not quality care. The system is broke. I love my job however I'm afraid the political aspect of it is breaking me. I refuse to be unethical and I'm tired of being reprimanded for it. I'm tired of being put into ethical/unethical decision making day everyday.
    Posted by Deborah Wheeler on 3/17/2015 9:00 PM
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